Madame Midas eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 393 pages of information about Madame Midas.
had too much money for that.  But it was a mean, sneaking, insinuating pride that wrapped him round like a cloak, and pretended to be very humble, and only holding its money in trust for the poor.  The poor ye have always with you—­did not Mr Meddlechip know it?  Ask the old men and women in the almshouses, and they would answer yes; but ask the squalid inhabitants of the slums, and they would probably say, ’Meddlechip, ’o’s ‘e?’ Not that the great Ebenezer Meddlechip was unknown—­oh, dear, no—­he was a representative colonial; he sat in Parliament, and frequently spoke at those enlarged vestry meetings about the prosperity of the country.  He laid foundation stones.  He took the chair at public meetings.  In fact, he had his finger in every public pie likely to bring him into notoriety; but not in private pies, oh, dear, no; he never did good by stealth and blush to find it fame.  Any blushes he might have had would have been angry ones at his good deed not being known.

He had come in the early days of the colony, and made a lot of money, being a shrewd man, and one who took advantage of every tide in the affairs of men.  He was honest, that is honest as our present elastic acceptation of the word goes—­and when he had accumulated a fortune he set to work to buy a few things.  He bought a grand house at Toorak, then he bought a wife to do the honours of the grand house, and when his domestic affairs were quite settled, he bought popularity, which is about the cheapest thing anyone can buy.  When the Society for the Supplying of Aborigines with White Waistcoats was started he headed the list with one thousand pounds—­bravo, Meddlechip!  The Secretary of the Band of Hard-up Matrons asked him for fifty pounds, and got five hundred—­generous Meddlechip!  And at the meeting of the Society for the Suppression of Vice among Married Men he gave two thousand pounds, and made a speech on the occasion, which made all the married men present tremble lest their sins should find them out-noble Meddlechip!  He would give thousands away in public charity, have it well advertised in the newspapers, and then wonder, with humility, how the information got there; and he would give a poor woman in charge for asking for a penny, on the ground that she was a vagrant.  Here, indeed, was a man for Victoria to be proud of; put up a statue to him in the centre of the city; let all the school children study a list of his noble actions as lessons; let the public at large grovel before him, and lick the dust of his benevolent shoes, for he is a professional philanthropist.

Mrs Meddlechip, large, florid, and loud-voiced, was equally as well known as her husband, but in a different way.  He posed as benevolence, she was the type of all that’s fashionable—­that is, she knew everyone; gave large parties, went out to balls, theatres, and lawn tennis, and dressed in the very latest style, whether it suited her or not.  She had been born and brought up in the colonies,

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Madame Midas from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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